Album #457 – Songs The Lord Taught Us

Album #457

It’s very fitting that I would be listening to the Cramps’ first album just as Lorde is set to don the cover of Rolling Stone wearing a Cramps T-shirt. I have no idea if Lorde is a fan but, she should be. This New York based band created a new genre of punk called psychobilly, which mixes 60’s Garage rock and rockabilly with punk and imagery from old horror movies. The Cramps are led by lead singer and front man, Lux Interior. He tragically passed away in 2009 but brought live performance to new heights. Interior came to a new audience as a voice on Spongebob Squarepants. His shock rock style would become synonymous with 80’s punk rock. The rest of the group was equally as strong. Instead of a bassist, Lux’s wife, Poison Ivy Rorschach, played rhythm guitar. Bryan Gregory’s lead guitar parts are reminiscent of Dick Dale, Duane Eddy and The Ventures. But, they also evoke early rockabilly. The production, done by former Big Star front man Alex Chilton, is eerie and dense. But, it adds to the overall flavor of this album. The album was both haunting and fun and combined successfully many of the genres I like most in music. The Cramps continued to tour until Interior’s death and eventually admitted that psychobilly was a term they gave to their music to sell records and concert tickets. It seems to have worked and the Cramps are one of the many innovators to come out of the CBGBs scene. This album proves why the 80’s were such an amazing decade musically. Many bands took risks and were unique. Music today would not exist without them. Luckilly, we can all go back and absorb their legacy. Recorded music will always have that value and that is why the past of music is as important as the present. Highlights include: T.V. Set, Garbageman, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, Sunglasses After Dark, The Mad Daddy, Mystery Plane, Zombie Dance, Strychnine, I’m Cramped, Tear It Up and a haunting cover of Peggy Lee’s song Fever. Overall, I give Songs The Lord Taught Us, 4 out of 5.

Next: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by Dead Kennedys

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